JAMAICA– Shakira Martin.  Like Ireland, she’s such a major letdown from last year’s Miss Universe 1st runner-up Yendi Phillips.  She could be considered attractive in real-world terms, but not in the stratified standards of international beauty pageants.  She seems a deadringer for former Cosby Show star Tempestt Bledsoe (who played Vanessa Huxtable), but I also heard comparisons to Keisha Knight-Pulliam (who played the youngest kid, Rudy Huxtable).  I first couldn’t quite get the latter, but then during the Presentation Show, I started seeing the Rudy resemblance—though it was a scary sight (though Keisha Knight-Pulliam actually grew up to become a sexy babe).  I don’t know, but I’ve noticed in the evening gown round of the Presentation Show, there are contestants sporting red gowns that made them look fatter than they really are—I thought white is the fattening color.  Needless to say, this lady wore a red satin gown that made her look heavier.

"Does this dress make me look fat?" (Part 2)
Is she a Vanessa? Or a Rudy? (Photo of Cosby Show cast sourced from blog.rounds.com)

JAPAN– Maria Kamiyama.  Yes, she’s the first full post-Ines Ligron representative, and yes, I agree with most pageant fans and pundits that she pales in comparison with the Ligron Girls.  Her face reminds me of fashion designer Vera Wang, and Vera Wang’s facial features are not the sort that is appreciated in beauty pageants.  Still, there are still traces of the Ligron legacy as she put up a good fight during the Presentation Show.  But with the wealth of astounding Asians, it’s unlikely she’ll be granted a slot for the Top 16.

Vera Wang (photo sourced from fashion-rules.com)

KAZAKHSTAN– Valeriya Aleinikova.  Wonder what’s up with this country?  They have fielded a host of Eurasian lookers in previous years and we were expecting an exotic stunner who won the national pageant to compete here.  But apparently the national pageant doesn’t hold the franchise anymore and the franchise holder (whoever it is) fielded this homely lady.  At the very least she looks like she’s having a lot of fun in her stay inBrazil, and she took a fashion risk during the Presentation Show reviving the 1980s with her white long-sleeved evening gown with shoulder pads.

Having fun...

KOREA– Sora Jung.  When she won her national pageant, most pageant fans and pundits felt that she’s a letdown from her prettier predecessors.  But when she arrived, many are seeing she could put up a great fight.  She is better looking than expected, and she has the added quality of speaking excellent English.  She likewise performed strongly at the Presentation Show, but she’s not regarded as an Asian-most-likely.  She’ll end up as a well-regarded worthwhile contender with a following because of the fact that she’s also Miss Philippines’ roommate.

Roommates! (Photo courtesy of FotoArena.com)

KOSOVO – Afërdita Dreshaj.  This lady is already a celebrity in her country, as she’s a pop singer there.  Prior to her arrival, she’s hyped as a possible crown contender.  Then, when she set foot inBrazil, her buzz fizzled as pageant fans and pundits felt she suffered from the Emiri Miyasaka Syndrome.*5  I still wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but her performance at the Presentation Show was uneven, at best.  In the evening gown, she wore a pink ballgown and did not walk well in it.  She made up for it in the swimsuit round, as her tan seemed evened out and justifiable to showcase her lean and trim figure.  It’s almost like a Rozanna Purcell*6 scenario, right?

*5 The Japanese Miss Universe contestant in 2009 who spent too long in a tanning bed.

*6 Hot in swimsuit, weak in gown.

Emiri Miyasaka
Rozanna Purcell in evening gown

LEBANON– Yara El-Khoury-Mikhael. I find her very Arab features highly attractive.  During her video interview, I had visions of actress Laura San Giacomo.  She is another member of the P.A.T.I.S. club.

Lara San Giacomo (photo sourced from mounet.com)

MALAYSIA– Deborah Priya Henry.  She was a semifinalist in Miss World 2007 won by China’s Zhang Zilin.  That batch yielded two Miss Universe 1st runners-up so far withDominican Republic’s Ada Aimee de la Cruz in 2009 andJamaica’s Yendi Phillips last year.  So is she going to be able to sustain that streak or better it?  Remember that the last time this country placed, it was 41 years ago.

It looks like it’s going to be a date with destiny for this lady.  A variety of factors colluded to bring forth this potentially historic moment.  They include:

  • First, her national director is Andrea Fonseka, the Malaysian representative back in 2004 who was a cellar-dweller then but has since transformed into an FHM-worthy babe.  It so happens that her mother was the only Malaysian to make the Miss Universe semifinals so far, Josephine Lena Wong.
Andrea Fonseka at Miss Universe 2004
Andrea Fonseka now (courtesy of FHM Singapore)
Josephine Lena Wong (image sourced from cutecarry.com)


  • Second, she received tips from Ines Ligron, the former national director for Japan, after guesting in a reality show in Singapore,


Ines Ligron (courtesy of inesligron.com)
  • Third, it seems universally acknowledged that among the video interviews hers was the most intelligent and eloquent, without sacrificing charm.
  • Fourth, those lessons with Ines Ligron paid off as Deborah delivered onstage with spades during the Presentation Show, looking impeccably elegant in a violet number during the evening gown round and looking fiercely buffed during the swimsuit round.  A new catchphrase coined by American Idol’s Randy Jackson popped in my head: “She’s in it to win it!”

I know there are detractors who are still unconvinced about her looks, but to my eyes she is a striking, dignified stunner.  I even have visions of singer Sade when I look at her.  It’s going to be a major injustice if this lady doesn’t make the final cut as she has all the qualities to be guaranteed that spot.  I know Miss Universe doesn’t make the most intelligent girl win in recent years, but they still reward intelligence and eloquence to a certain extent.  So, yes, she may not end up winning it all, but she is on track to join Ada and Yendi to the pantheon.

Sade (photo sourced from mtvbase.com)
Ada and Yendi (with Zhang Zilin) are waiting for you, Deborah! (Photo courtesy of sina.cn)

MAURITIUS– Laetitia Darche.  Several pageant fans and pundits have hyped that this lady could bring forth the Mauritian breakthrough.  She is undeniably gorgeous with pleasantly exotic features and dusky complexion.  But her performance during the Presentation Show was a bit hit-or-miss—the green gown she sported for the evening gown round has a weird proportion that I find off-putting, and although she’s solid in the swimsuit round, there are several others who also delivered.  All I can say is the country is in the right direction this year.

MEXICO– Karin Ontiveros.  Early during her stay inBrazil, she is regarded as having an inside track into the Top 16 as pageant fans and pundits felt she looks prettier than her coronation photos from her national pageant may suggest.  But a couple of missteps occurred since then.  First was the video interview as she was surprisingly blasé and underwhelming—considering the enthusiastic attitude she seems to have in events since them it may be because she just arrived from her flight when the interview was recorded.  Then, there is that controversial hotel swimsuit photo where she seems ready to take off her bikini bottom.  She seemed to redeem herself with a strong Presentation Show performance, looking impeccably elegant like a fair Castillian princess.  Hopefully she likewise made a great impression during the private interview with the judges.

MONTENEGRO– Nikolina Lončar.  She didn’t really quite stand out during pageant activities but she’s garnered compliments for attractiveness.  She displayed a bubbly personality onstage after being announced as the winner of the Miss Congeniality-Universe special award.

Winning Miss Congeniality

NETHERLANDS– Kelly Weekers.  She resembles a cross between actresses Diane Kruger (“Troy”) and Jennifer Lawrence (before she dyed her hair brunette for her lead role in the “Hunger Games” trilogy).  She started winning fans when she set foot in Brazil, and in my opinion she is actually a complete package who deserves to belong to the Top 16—besides her gorgeous face, she’s a strong communicator judging from her video interview and she performed strongly during the Presentation Show as she strutted with aplomb in a white minidress-with-train and exuding sexiness during the swimsuit round.

Diane Kruger (Photo sourced from postershop.co.uk)
Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars (photo sourced from celebuzz.com)

NEW ZEALAND– Priyani Puketapu. She is a below par representative from this country, though we have to credit her for doing the best that she could.

NICARAGUA– Adriana Dorn.  Her arrival photo made several pageant fans and pundits think “Is that Miss World 2004 Maria Julia Mantilla?”  She’s delivered the goods consistently since then—besides consistently looking gorgeous like Maju Mantilla, she is revealed to be an excellent communicator with excellent command of English in her video interview, took a fashion risk wearing an assymetrical gown during the Presentation Show and pulled it off, and looking simply perfect during the swimsuit round.  Most pageant fans and pundits may assume that the Central-American-Most-Likely this year would be Miss Costa Rica, but I am actually more confident about this lady’s prospects over the otherwise superb Johanna Solano.

Miss World 2004 Maria Julia Mantilla (photo courtesy of Miss World Organization)

NIGERIA– Sophie Gemal.  In photos of various pageant activities, she looked like a hot mess with a messy weave.  She simply underwhelmed all throughout, exacerbated by her awkward catwalk during the swimsuit round of the Presentation Show.  Where, oh where, are the Agbani Daregos and Chinenye Ochubas?

PANAMA– Sheldry Saez.  Her type of beauty requires the right kind of makeup to be unleashed to its fullest potential.  For instance, pageant fans and pundits rated her as a favorite with an inside track to the Top 16 prior to her arrival inBrazil.  As she arrived inBrazil, pageant fans and pundits rethink their regard as she looked rather homely in candid photos and in the video interview.  Then came the Presentation Show, and she looked wonderful again, looking stunning in her white evening gown with an interesting design of silver square sequins that are arranged to form triangular patterns, and then looking smolderingly sexy during the swimsuit round.  There is this possibility that if two Central American ladies are granted Top 16 slots, she would take away Miss Costa Rica’s slot.

All photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, L.P. LLLP unless otherwise indicated.



GERMANY– Valeria Bystritskaya.  Her main strength is her lean and slender model frame.  Her face is a bit of an acquired taste—she resembles E! News host Giuliana Rancic.  Her stage skills are raw, at best.  Middle-of-the-road contender in my book.

Giuliana Rancic. Photo from zimbio.com

GHANA– Erika Nego.  As Miss Minnesota USA two years ago, she made the Top 15.  Even as she performed solidly during the Presentation Show, I think it will be an uphill battle for her to make the final cut.  It’s still a conceivable possibility, but there are worthier, more charismatic choices out there.

glamour shot from Miss USA 2009

GREAT BRITAIN– Chloe-Beth Morgan.  Yes, she’s a surprise 2nd runner-up at the Miss International 2009 pageant.  But I don’t foresee her breaking the 28-year British drought in this pageant.  Her facial features could be attractive at some flattering angles, but they often look a tad too harsh otherwise.  Come to think of it, she could pass for Miss ElSalvador’s more attractive and sophisticated older sister…

During her Miss International 2009 stint, where she won 2nd runner-up. Photo from pageantgirl.co.uk

GREECE– Iliana Papageorgiou.  Pageant fans and pundits were impressed with her sleek modeling photos when she was announced as the handpicked choice to represent the financially strapped nation.  But they want to see if she could deliver in candids.  She actually did, though she wasn’t buzzed about as attention was directed towards other delegates.  But during the Presentation Show, she created a major splash strutting professionally in her sleek white evening gown and showcasing a lean and sleek model frame during the swimsuit round.  There are some who are comparing her to Miss Universe 2001 1st Runner-Up Evelina Papantoniou—I won’t hype Iliana to that high level, but I can declare that it seems a Top 16 slot is secured for her after that sterling Presentation Show performance.

Evelina, part deux?

GUAM– Shayna Afaisen.  She is clearly not in serious contention to make the final cut, but she has a nice radiantly cheerful face.  It’s the sort that you assume would win Miss Congeniality—but that award went to someone else this year.

GUATEMALA– Alejandra Barillas.  Wonder how she beat Jessica Scheel in her national pageant?  Jessica Scheel replaced her as she incurred an injury last year, and Jessica brought her country to the Top 10, officially ranking 9th.  Now that she’s given the chance to compete, could she outdo Jessica?  I doubt it—she’s just too plain in my eyes, and though she took a welcome fashion risk sporting a long-sleeved black lace evening gown during the Presentation Show, she couldn’t quite pull off the charisma needed to make it work.  But she redeemed herself a bit during the swimsuit round as she strutted with a lively gait.

Jessica Scheel

GUYANA– Kara Lord.  Well, she performed creditably during the evening gown round of the Presentation Show sporting an off-white lacy top with golden sequined skirt.  In the swimsuit round, she’s the second nominee for the Flapper award.

Flapper award nominee

HAITI– Anedie Azael.  There were these striking modeling photos featuring her with very curly hair, so it was a surprise that when she was crowned in her national pageant (and when she competed inBrazil) that she went for a more conventional pageant look with long, straightened-but-wavy black hair.  Some of her early fans felt it was a radical wrong step.  But then, in candid shots she started sparkling (even has a shot where she resembled Venus Raj), and we discovered she has a YouTube account where she actually filmed some inside views of the pageant proceedings, showcasing a vibrant personality that was not on display during her video interview (and giving us a nice alternative look at her fellow delegates).  Though her hairdo still remains in the pageant-y thick and wavy mode, she evoked the vibe of a cross between actresses Thandie Newton and Zoe Saldana.  I will not be surprised if she makes the final cut.

Early modeling shot. From Anedie's website, http://www.anedie.com
Venus, is that you? Photo from MabuhayBeauties.com

Zoe Saldana at the Golden Globes (Photo from wildsound.ca)
Thandie Newton at the BAFTAs (Photo from sofeminine.co.uk)

HONDURAS– Keylin Gomez.  Maybe it’s right that Anedie straightened her hair, because she might otherwise be compared to this lady, who does make a distinctive presence with her brown ringlets.  She’s another member of the P.A.T.I.S. club (see MissEcuador).

HUNGARY– Betta Lipcsei.  There were pageant fans and pundits who actually loved this lady with such a passion and placed her in serious contention for the semifinals.  Yes, she’s great looking, and her catwalk skills are solid (she pulled off what would otherwise be a poofy disaster of a green gown rather well), but in my eyes she’s not all that, though still a worthwhile contender.  I just have to note that during the swimsuit round of the Presentation Show, I noticed she’s got “guns” (muscular arms).  Visions of Madonna came rushing through my head…

Madonna. Photo sourced from nora-johnson.blogspot.com

INDIA– Vasuki Sunkavalli.  Several pageant fans and pundits dislike this lady with a passion, declaring she is a major letdown from the illustrious recent past of this country (with a 10-year semifinalist streak from 1993-2002).  Hurting matters further was a curt Facebook message she posted addressing fans who are requesting more pictures of her inBrazil.  Okay, yes, her face is an acquired taste (she reminds me of actress Melina Kankaredes, former star of CSI:New York), but there is that hint of the Sushmita Sen*4 fierceness.  She’s also a strong communicator judging from her video interview.  Then, she’s actually a pleasant surprise during the Presentation Show, as she performed at a top-notch level onstage in both evening gown and swimsuit rounds.  There are at least three Asians whose slots seem secure—with Trump & Co. allow room for some more?

*4 Remember that Miss Universe 1994 and Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen is now the national director for I Am She, the franchise holder in India for this pageant.

Melinda Kankaredes (Photo sourced from zap2it.com)

INDONESIA– Nadine Alexandra Ames.  I was amazed by her strong command of English in her video interview, and she’s continuing a streak of worthwhile contenders from this nation.  If it wasn’t for a whole host of excellent contenders from her continent, she would’ve made more serious inroads into the finals.  Interesting note about her green evening gown at the Presentation Show–it has a very high slit that was cut all the way to the hips, revealing that there is a leotard (or panties) underneath.  I’m wondering what kind of radical change occurred in Indonesian society over the past 15 years, as there are no mullahs making a big fuss with the wardrobe choices and the fact that she willingly wore a bikini?

IRELAND– Aoife Hannon.  Irish Gaelic lesson: her first name sounds exactly like the way Americans pronounce the name “Eva” (ee-vuh).  She’s such a major letdown from the smoldering Angelina Jolie-like hotness that was Rozanna Purcell (oh, her strutting in swimsuit as Elvis’s song “Burning Love” is tattooed in my head).  She sported an actually lovely shiny green gown during the Presentation Show, but she ruined it with a lousy catwalk.

Rozanna Purcell... "Hunka-hunka burning love..."

ISRAEL– Kim Edri.  She has one of the prettiest faces in this year’s pageant.  Too bad her figure is too thick for today’s pageant standards.  The red gown she wore at the Presentation show exacerbated matters.  There are still pageant fans and pundits who still place her in serious contention for the finals on the sole basis of her pretty face.  I am unfortunately not one of them.  Maybe a Trump Ticket is in order…

"Does this dress make me look fat?"

ITALY– Elisa Torrini.  During the Presentation Show, she is the winner of the Over-the-Top award, beating Miss Bahamas.  She strutted with aplomb in a black minidress-with-train during the evening gown round, and she was smiley and lively during the swimsuit round.  If we based her communication skills from her video interview, she sounds like a complete bimbo, and one memorable note about her was that she was briefly hospitalized for an undisclosed illness (some reported it affected her reproductive organs).  There is this gnawing feeling she is in contention for a Trump Ticket.

All photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, L.P. LLLP unless otherwise indicated.



COLOMBIA– Catalina Robayo.  I have mentioned in previous homestretch reviews about Colombia’s “Even-Numbered-Year” trend, wherein Colombia will usually land in the semifinals during a year that ends in an even number and miss the cut during a year ending with an odd number.  Actually, this lady has some strong qualities that could possible help her buck the trend. First, she is a vivacious communicator judging from her video interview. Second, she knows how to strut her stuff onstage. Third, she has an undeniably buffed figure.  Lastly, during the Presentation Show she made a distinctive impression in her orange evening gown with gold-embroidered tights underneath.

Unfortunately, there are some strong arguments supporting that the trend would be sustained this time.  First is her not-so-conventionally pretty face.  Second, during the evening gown round of the Presentation Show, she employed the “Taliana Twirl”*1 [term coined by Pasquale Tripoldi in his Global Beauties article back in 2008], a move which the Miss Universe Organization is trying its best to discourage delegates from using.  Third, there is an issue that her neck seems to be too short in proportion to the rest of her body. Then, the clincher is an infamous incident that took place when the delegates visited the mayor of the city, when there was a straightforward photo of her seated and at that coincidental moment her legs were slightly open. Think Sharon Stone’s iconic scene in “Basic Instinct”.*2

*1 Made famous back in 2008 by Miss Universe 1st runner-up Taliana Vargas

*2 I will not show Catalina’s notorious photo. Sharon Stone will have to do.

Taliana Vargas
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. copyright Tristar Pictures

It made me wonder as I could recall that Colombians make a huge fuss if a beauty queen is photographed modeling underwear (but then again, there’s barely any difference between lingerie and swimwear these days in terms of skin exposure).  It seems that beauty queens shown modeling underwear are deemed improper ladies in Colombian society.  So wonder what do those supposedly conservative Colombians think when their queen is caught sans panties?  For liberal ol’ me, one dictum for proper ladies is that if you are wearing a minidress (like what Catalina wore), always wear panties.  Sheryl Crow proudly declared when a similar situation occurred in her case that it’s a good thing she was wearing underwear.

COSTA RICA– Johanna Solano.  If there is justice in this world,Costa Ricashould make the cut this year.  This country rarely made the final cut, with only two semifinalists to account for in the past 60 years, and one of them an equine-looking gamine that is an insult to the close-but-no-cigar stunners this country fielded over the years.  Pageant fans and pundits regarded her as a major favorite for the Top 16, and she possesses all the qualities to secure that spot.  Besides her highly regarded facial beauty, she speaks excellent English (judging from her video interview) and took the effort to speak proper Portuguese (as it was reported by locals), she has a supremely buffed and sexy figure, and she has strong catwalk skills as demonstrated during the Presentation Show.  Yes, she’s shorter than most of this year’s delegates and her red frilly can-can-style evening gown during the Presentation Show polarized pageant fans and pundits, but in my opinion she carried her frock well enough to make a strong impression.  I hope justice prevails this time…

CROATIA– Natalija Prica.  Yes, there are more highly regarded blondes in this year’s batch, but I was surprised when I watched her performance during the Presentation Show.  Though she doesn’t make an extraordinary or distinctive impression in my eyes, she seemed rather solid throughout.  Somehow I’m getting a vibe that she could be a possible recipient of a Trump Ticket.

CURACAO– Evalina van Putten.  In recent years, I’ve noticed that Aruba and Curacao may field comely lookers who would make a strong initial impression, but eventually would be found lacking with weak communication skills or weak stage presence and thus fade away from contention.  Aruba broke out from that mold this year with the stunning Gillain Berry.  I wish I could say the same thing with this lady, but she had a weak video interview (“Martes” when referring to Martians?) and her catwalk during the Presentation Show was tentative and almost hesitant.  During the swimsuit round I caught her getting momentarily lost on where she should turn.

CYPRUS– Andriani Kalantoni.  Here is another underrated gem who with the right mix of judges could make the final cut.  She carried her avant-garde black satin gown with fringed shoulder accents with stylish aplomb during the evening gown round of the Presentation Show, and she was likewise strong during the swimsuit round.  She wasn’t highly buzzed about but this blonde has an undeniably pretty face.  Though she doesn’t possess Demetra Eleftheriou’s bountiful assets, she conceivably could become the second Cypriot to advance in this pageant.

CZECH REPUBLIC– Jitka Nováčková.  She actually has the potential to sustain the four-year semifinals streak, as she’s a good looking, slim-and-trim looker.  But then again, she is overshadowed by other striking and stunning blondes out there, and her Presentation Show performance was unremarkable.  Yes, arguably this country’s streak is sustained by being handed a Trump Ticket (with the exception of 2009—Iveta Lutovská made it on pure merit), but there are other likelier contenders who would be likely be handed that ticket this time.

DENMARK– Sandra Amer.  She has good facial features that at some angles (like in the video interview) resemble “Bleeding Love” singer Leona Lewis.  But she was disappointing in the Presentation Show, sporting an extremely busy powder blue gown for the evening gown round, and showcasing a thicker-than-standard figure during the swimsuit round.

Leona Lewis. copyright J Records

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC– Dalia Fernandez. She has a striking square-ish face that she was able to pull it off and make the best impression out of it, she possesses strong communication skills judging from her video interview, and she has a well-proportioned trim-and-fit figure.  But her evening gown performance at the Presentation Show was disappointing—sporting an otherwise lovely orange gown, her catwalk was surprisingly weak.

ECUADOR– Claudia Schiess.  This Latina blonde is one of the members of the P.A.T.I.S.*3 club who would be regarded as a worthwhile contender but gets drowned in the crowd.  The fuchsia gown she wore during the Presentation Show is a classic pageant patty cliché number.

*3  Pretty-enough, Articulate-enough, Trim-enough, Intelligent-enough, Stageworthy-enough

EGYPT– Sara El-Khouly.  She is stronger than your typical Egyptian contestant, with her gorgeous Mediterranean brunette persona (though her roots are not Mediterranean, I have occasional visions of reality-TV star Kim Kardashian) and articulate communication skills (most Egyptian Miss Universe contestants tend to sound mumbly).  But she unfortunately doesn’t seem to know how to walk onstage or she seemed distracted and unmotivated as her catwalk was lifeless and listless throughout the Presentation Show.  She couldn’t fully realize her potential.

EL SALVADOR– Mayra Aldana.  Central Americahas fielded a relatively strong field this year, with three of them in serious contention for the Top 16.  Unfortunately this lady is the weakest link of the bunch, with a face perfect for the role of a contravida (villainess) in a telenovela.  During the Presentation Show, her face made me think of how LaToya Jackson looks these days…

La Toya Jackson. Photo from showbizinsider.com

ESTONIA– Madli Vilsar.  During her national pageant, she seemed to be a raw, awkward ingénue who pageant fans and pundits regard as a possible cellar-dweller in this year’s pageant.  But surprise, surprise, as when she set foot inBrazilshe actually sparkled and looked utterly refreshing, sometimes making fans and pundits recall the last Estonian to make the cut in this pageant, Evelyn Mikomägi.  She would actually be in more serious contention if she was competing at Miss World, where they appreciate her brand of beauty better.  I like her lively catwalk clad in her yellow strapless evening gown, and despite a slightly awkward entrance she still made a strong impression during the swimsuit round of the Presentation Show.  Definitely a commendable performance in my book, whether or not she makes the final cut.

Evelyn Mikomagi

FINLAND– Pia Pakarinen.  Pageant fans and pundits are salivating that this comely blonde can break the erstwhile Miss Universe powerhouse’s 14-year drought.  In photos of their activities she sparkles and seemed to have the competitive drive be in serious contention for the Top 16.  But then came the Presentation Show, and though her beauty was undeniable, she seemed to fizzle.  For the evening gown round she sported an ill-fitting orange gown, and though she displayed a buffed figure for the swimsuit round, she didn’t make as much impact as several fans and pundits would expect.  She might need the help of a Trump Ticket to make the final cut.

FRANCE – Laury Thilleman.  Prior to her arrival inBrazil, many pageant fans and pundits felt she lacks the beauty to be in serious contention for the finals.  But when she finally set foot in Sao Paulo for the pageant activities, she started winning over fans and pundits (including myself) as she has a certain je ne sais quoi plus an enthusiastic attitude and competitive drive (lacking in most French contestants save for 2009’s Chloe Mortaud).  She suddenly had charisma and sparkle, and that carried on all the way to the Presentation Show.  Though yes, her predecessor Malika Menard is prettier, I wouldn’t be surprised if she will outperform her.

GEORGIA – Eka Gurtskaia.  Face-wise she is, well, one of the homeliest around, and her figure makes her one of the leaders for the annual “Flapper” award.  But she had a great moment in the Presentation Show during the evening gown round posing fiercely in a lovely blue Grecian-style dress with a glittering cummerbund that is just to die for.

Flapper award nominee

All photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, L.P. LLLP unless otherwise indicated.